Foreword: Alright then. Time to get back to some better writing, as I really do regret what I wrote in the last chapter- it didn't feel good to write, and neither did I when I wrote it. I suppose that yeah, it did fill a gap in plot, but anyway, onwards with a plot.
Chapter Eight: Looking Forward
Torremolinos, Costa Del Sol
I wake from my bed (again, for the second time in one day), as I quickly scramble up, at least glad not to be on a beach right now. I remind myself- I was sleeping off the hangover, the one that I still regret a lot. Bad times- but now, I just need to move on. I throw the covers to one side, as I get my clothes on again, and decide to get going. The alcohol's out of my system, but my natural body clock feels like it's ruined. Still, now's a good time to move on from that. More than ever. I get my trainers on, as I quickly pour myself a glass of Coke, and then glug it down quickly. The sunshine is out, and despite it being the middle of winter, this place is still quite warm, maybe 15 or 17 degrees Celsius. I've had worse winters.
I eventually walk out of the room, my head at least in focus. I need to make a choice- and that's something my mind keeps going over. Ty probably took the same advice as me, but I know that he's a little more lightweight- so godknows what state he could be in now. All I know, is this. Zoe, Mac, Tane, and Alex are probably organizing what to do next. And the most likely place they're doing that, is down by the reception. In broad daylight, but the lounge down there is comfy. But like I say to myself in my head, it's in broad daylight. Any journalist, or tourist, could easily see. But this place was empty enough in the winter to probably make sure neither happened- despite the few tourists I guess I saw very early this morning. They might not even be there- so I decide to not even bother about going down, and I guess that I'll just wait till they come for me, or Ty.
Using that logic, I quickly knock on the door of Ty's room, just to check he's in the world of the living now. His room is opposite mine- at least we managed to get rooms on the same floor, so we can go to each others' room quite quickly. Within a minute, the door opens, and Ty at least looks in a state better than me, surprisingly. Dressed in his black and yellow jumper, along with some jeans, rather than snowboarding trousers, I guess that he dressed for warmth rather than cold, but I guess that's Ty. We all are just people wanting to express ourselves- and I guess this is Ty's style. A blonde Norwegian, and one that along with me, is probably the new wave of snowboarders in SSX. The ones that don't want to go and just race, trick and show off-we're the ones who actually want something for ourselves. We grew up watching SSX- and now it's our turn to show them what our take on snowboarding is. This time, it surviving it, and the rest from before, like racing and trick sessions- but now, we're doing this not for millions of people on TV to watch and sponsors to crawl in. We're doing it for ourselves, and maybe a few thousand on the internet. Whatever it is, I know that it's why I'm friends with Ty more than anyone, simply due to the fact that we're in the same situation with roughly the same attitude.
"Hey. You okay after last night?" I ask, as I can tell- Ty can quickly reply to that one.
"Somehow, yes. Come in- I know it's not much, but before last night, I managed to compile that footage off your headcam, when you were on Mount Toukbal." Ty replies, as I walk in, and he shuts the door behind. I guess that they might even be out anyway- so I guess that yeah, I might as well kill time here.
"So since when were you a video editor?" I ask, as Ty leads me to a sofa, in a small lounge in his room. It's cramped- but I'm not claustrophobic, so this is okay with me, I suppose.
"It's easier than you think, to just put some footage together. What you got was some really edgy stuff- it looks amazing, believe me." Ty says, as taking a seat, takes his laptop, and quickly looks through, to find what he has gotten up to so far. On a video editing programme, and even with my knowledge of this, I'm pretty amazed with what Ty has achieved in half a day's worth of work, yesterday. Maybe he just got to work on it this morning- he does look like he is in a much better state than me.
"You never cease to amaze, do you?" I say, as he plays it. I remember the memories- and it makes me at least glad about myself. The internet's going to love this one- I can already tell, as the footage approaches where I used my wingsuit, that it truly captures the true fear of it all. I guess that I'm not one of those people who are compelled to face a fear- but just that I suppress it really well, like many of us. That's nearly a mandatory requirement of SSX- to keep your cool and look good, even when in the most death-defying of scenarios.
While I watch it, I remember what this was about- sure, we didn't want popularity. But this was stuff that we couldn't forget and keep to ourselves- and I guess that Ty kinda went along with what I was thinking now. We're not out for fame, or flashing cameras. We're just two riders, out for adrenaline, glory and just knowing that we do badass things every day. And that is what makes us what we are. I realize that I'm over thinking it, as I look around. The footage of the avalanche following me out of the tunnel is definitely going to turn some heads, surely.
"I wish I would have been there. That looks insane." Ty says, a little astounded, as I chuckle a little bit, feeling like inside, it was something that a normal person would have definitely feared. I guess the footage maybe picked it up better than my eyes did- I wasn't focussed on that moment as fully as I should have been, and I know that at least it happened.
"Let's hope the online community thinks so too. You got anything to drink?" I say, as I look around, out the window. The heat isn't staggering, but it isn't pleasant either. Even in winter, it looks like we picked a few days that were pretty good. The heat coupled with the post-hangover state I'm in, a little dehydrated, and it was probably why I asked in the first place.
"Yeah- in the cooler. There's a few bottles of water or juice, take your pick." Ty says, and I can't resist the urge to wonder why he has one- and yet in my simplish room, I don't.
"You have a cooler? Seriously?"
"They must have taken it out of your room, or something. Came in mine." He replies, as I stand up, and walk over to where it is, underneath a worktop in his kitchen. Maybe they took it out of my room since it was broken- I don't know, but either way, I just need a drink. I take a bottle of water, reasonably cold, but nothing like the mountain streams that I've drunk from. At least it something to drink, after all.
"I always end up drawing the short straw in life, don't I?" I say randomly, walking back to where Ty sits on the sofa. I glug the water down, after opening it, and take a seat, next to where he's still working on it. Looks like it's close to being done- though as it is with video editing, and uploading, it is a time-consuming and lengthy process.
"Anyway…how's Tane and all that? Before you had one too many, and all." I ask, as he continues working away, but seems to understand what I said.
"He's fine. Tane never changes I suppose."
"A calm hippie…"
"Yeah. I still don't get what's between you and Alex." He says, as I sit up, looking around at his room, a little astounded that he has a sea view, a cooler, and probably a nicer vibe to it than mine. I guess Ty's called Lucky for a reason, and I know that it's not exactly the most surprising nickname.
"If I'm honest, me neither. But I just don't get along with her. Back on the tour, she was pretty stuck up, and stuck in her world of fashion and she just sat back."
"She's broken records on Chamonix and Mont Blanc, you know; she isn't all fashionista. She's got some serious talent, and she's practically unbeatable in the Alps.." Ty says, as I quickly interrupt- I know that even though she does have that talent, she's just a pretty face. Who can ride a snowboard quite well. If Elise sold out to the fashion industry, perhaps SSX wouldn't be in the strength it would have reached now. And Alex is just one of those people to me- more model than snowboarder, and it's only luck that means she can be good at both.
"Still, I don't see her climbing up Everest any time soon. Anyway, we need to go back to Scotland sometime. Seriously, those were good times." I say, changing the topic, as Ty places the laptop on a table in front of the sofa, then sitting back as he chuckles a little, leaning back.
"Yeah. They're hopeless in the summer, but in the middle of winter, from the top of some of those peaks, the views are pretty sweet. That and the fact that you practically got us thrown off any of the main pistes." Ty says, thinking back, as I laugh a bit, thinking back to that run. That wasn't exactly my greatest moment- but it was pretty funny. With that thought in mind, another one comes straight into my head, and I think that I need to put this one across before we move on from the topic.
"Know what I'm thinking?"
"I say that when this is over, we go snowboarding on Snowdon. In Wales." I say, laughing, as Ty reacts with a mixed shock and laughter, as I mention Wales.
"Wales? Snowboarding? That's crazy!."
"Snowboarding inside of Kilimanjaro is as well…" I add, as Ty quickly reacts.
"Yeah, but at 5,000m, there's actually snow! Not on some small mountain, in Wales!" Ty says, as I know this may need explaining.
"Next time it snows in Wales, we can do it. It'll be crap snow, but I think it'll do. The local news will enjoy it. And it'll be a laugh." I say, as Ty gets a hold of himself, sitting up, as he takes the laptop back off the table, and on his lap.
"If it snows. If."
"Yeah. I guess that's the only problem."
About half an hour later
"What's so amazing about Iceland anyway?" Zoe says, as Mac sits up, and I can tell- this matter has us truly divided us, after they came into our room and began discussing it here, arguing over the merits of both. Personally, I think about the good stuff on both, thinking it out before I come to a conclusion at least. Ty seems like he's in my shoes too- halfway. Though that said, I know that the Viking in him wants Iceland. And you know what, I think I do too. The Pyrenees would just be the same old as in the Atlas, and maybe Iceland is what we need. Still, something gives me a funny feeling that when we go there, it's really going to be a deadly decent. This is one that I know very well- I've climbed to the top of the highest peak there, and I know that it's something that makes the rest of my climbs look quite civilized. The Pyrenees weren't as crazy as that. So I guess it's a place I know very well. So when Zoe asks what's amazing about it, I nearly automatically react.
"Well…I know this. The slopes aren't for rookies. There are huge risks, for huge rewards. The runs are on active volcanoes, and you're going to be contending against some serious odds. The Pyrenees may have one deadly descent, but I know that each run in Iceland's volcanic area is one." I say, cutting in before Mac can reply. It seems that we relocated from the reception to Ty's room, surprisingly. They just came to us, because they were looking to see if we were in the world of the living. And for some reason, we're still stuck in Ty's room.
"Compared to the Death Zone, Nick, that doesn't sound too bad…" Zoe adds, as I quickly interrupt again. I don't normally get irritated- but to call Iceland a safe place is a lie. It is only safe on the coastal runs, as crazy as that sounds. But they're pathetic anyway- the real stuff is on the main volcanoes, and it's why it's so deadly- or at least has the potential to be.
"It might not, but believe me on this. It's truly a harrowing place. Unlike in the Atlas, where slush and caves were a problem, in Iceland, there are active volcanoes and caves going inside the volcanoes, if you feel like turning up the heat. There's lava pools in areas of those caves, and even though the snow is pretty good from what I've heard, there's a very good reason it's known as the land of fire. Those volcanoes are active like I said, not dormant or frozen like in Africa. And that means that they'll happily be more likely than not to spurt out lava, or even erupt in worst case scenario. Crevasses join them on the surface of these volcanoes along with rocky, canyon runs, and natural kickers formed on the side of hardened volcano vents and trick opportunities in abandoned geothermal plants. It's like Kilimanjaro- except much, much worse, and with an outside layer that will also try and kill you."
"Sounds like fun then." Mac says, as I carry on, and I hear Tane chuckle a little, at that comment, as I know that this may finally convince them.
"Iceland reminds me about hell- except the views are probably phenomenal, and the alcohol comes cheap. Along with the accommodation, and the fact that if any of us are even going to go on those slopes, we're going to really make sure we plan it out, and more likely than not, bring every bit of kit that we're had with us to this one. I know that unlike the rest, Iceland has a reputation for being an inhospitable place where only the bravest and most skilled dare. There is no easy way of being introduced to this- every run is a Survival run, and there is no mountain rescue to help you here." I add, coldly, as Alex sits up, and glares at me.
"No mountain rescue. Sheesh, that's the least of my problems. I've gone down Belusha, and yet you call that a problem?" Alex says, in a tone that sounds like it's whining. To me it does, anyway.
"Thought you told your insurers that you'd go to places with it, Alex?" I respond, as Ty takes over, putting his idea in- at least he stopped me and Alex from taking it further, thank god.
"I'll agree with Nick on this. It sounds like a pretty extreme place. From what we know, it's going to really push us. A true deadly descent."
"It's 4 to 2, Zoe." Mac says, as Tane nods his head in agreement, and Zoe knows there isn't much point arguing now- she knows that maybe I was right. Or maybe she just gave up for majority's sake. Either way, we're going to Iceland, I tell myself.
"Yeah. I'll agree with that, I can't argue with a majority. Tell you what, Nick, you and Mac can go and get this Deadly Descent if you want." Zoe says, as we all stand up, apart from Ty. It feels like it should sound cold- but it isn't somehow. In fact, I think it feels like a privilege again.
"Mac? You in?" I ask, as Mac quickly responds, as I almost expected him to.
"Sure. You know that if I can do Kilimanjaro, I'm not missing this, right?" Mac says, a smile on his face. At least Mac hasn't lost what made him a legend in SSX- his enthusiasm, and his talent with snowboarding that makes a lot of others respect him. When he was 18, may I add. Now he's grown up, compared to those days, but he's still got it. And a legend of the past's going to ride with me. I know Zoe's a legend, but I know that Mac did to SSX what Ken Block did to rallying. He made it cool- he made it popular, and he made it big. Himself and the sport, anyway. So I'm glad that it's Mac who's going with me on this one, and bringing me to the craziest and most deadly of runs- because I know that he's going to want this one conquered as much as me.
Before even a second passes after Mac replies, I feel a buzzing in my trouser pocket, as I realize that it's my mobile phone.
"Good. Hang on, I got a call, give me a minute." I say, taking it out, as I walk away from the group, and into the kitchen area. I pick up, and put the phone to my ear, unaware of the number.
"Hello? Who's there?" I say, as I listen in,looking out of the window, as I wait for a response.
"It's Griffin Simmons. Now Nick…"
"Well, well, well. What now?" I say, a little annoyed. This is a "villain" of SSX's; so what exactly am I to say?
"Just meet me on Mulhacén, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Come tomorrow, at 9am." Griff says, as I nearly laugh, as I hear that, keeping it in instead.
"What, for a showdown? We've proved our point."
"It's different this time. Most of my sponsors dropped me. I'm just here because I know that you're exactly like me. I need to talk, and I need to ride."
"Unlike you, I became a mountain climber, and then a snowboarder. I earned my skill- I'm not a overconfident, cocky and lucky boarder. I got to where I did because I wanted it. And like I said, what do I need to prove?" I say again, as Griff's response is quick. He doesn't sound like a complete idiot- but still, I can tell that after his defeat in the Death Zone, he's changed.
"Riding for me's losing it's edge. I watch you do the stuff you do…and you're the new generation. When I was a kid, I was ignored and impatient. And I was. I guess I'm not just sorry, but I'm ready to at least make this run a fun one. I guess…I just want to go back to the good days." Griff says, as something hits me- he's only just realized what we're going back to, in terms of riding. No longer stuck in a sponsored and huge contest. Times have changed. Now, it's about the amazing stuff we can do, not the competitions and races. I know he doesn't want to join SSX- but I might as well see what he's become in terms of his personality, and his riding skill. And at least I plugged him to explain himself.
"Well, if you think so. I'm nearly the same age as you, and you know that we're in the same generation. I'll ask Wizard to get me a drop, and I'll meet you there."
"I'll be waiting." He says, as I disconnect the phone, and turn around, to see Ty waiting there.
"Nick? What's going on?" Ty asks, as I realize- he heard everything I said. I'm not going to lie here- there's no need to. Not to a friend- and it's a truth that I need to make.
"Let's just say I need a helicopter flight into the Sierra Nevada, tomorrow. I need to meet an old enemy of ours."
"You talked to Griff?" Ty says, a little with astonishment, like I was almost a traitor.
"He talked to me. He sounds like he's becoming like us. Though that said, I don't think he's going to rival us anytime soon, or join us for that matter. I just think he wants to get to know me." I say, as I hear Ty's response already.
"I nearly got myself killed back in New Zealand racing against him in that fog…you sure he only wants that?" Ty says, my memories setting back to that time. And agreeably, that has to be true- I think all of us did in the end.
"Look. If he challenges us, he'd be insane, and with nothing to gain. I'm just going to have a freeride with him, I guess." I say, a little sheepishly, as I know that unawares, I think I kinda did.
"Perhaps. But you know what you're getting yourself into." Ty says, as I begin to walk toward the door, noticing that the rest have already left. Seems like more time passed than I thought while I was on the phone.
"I got this." I say, as I walk out the door, open, and leave Ty standing there. Maybe that wasn't the best idea, but I've got a rough idea of the Sierra Nevada. Mulhacén is the highest peak, and the highest mountain outside of the Alps, in Europe. Snow covers it in winter, and surprisingly, it is ridable, on one side for most skiers and snowboarders. Though I think that the route that Griff's going to want to meet me on is going to be down it's south-western face, a more challenging and off-piste route. It'll be a beautiful run, that is, if it all goes to plan.